A total of 33 states and the Virgin Islands have depleted their funds and borrowed more than $38.7 billion to provide a safety net, according to a report released Thursday by the National Employment Law Project. Four others are at the brink of insolvency.
Debt-challenged California has borrowed the most, totaling more than $8.4 billion, followed by Michigan and New York, which have loans worth more than $3 billion. Nine other states have borrowed at least $1 billion from the federal government.
“The nation’s financing system for jobless benefits is under unprecedented stress,” said Andrew Stettner, deputy director of the New York-based advocacy group for the unemployed. “While the recession has certainly made things worse, this funding crisis has been developing for years.”
At the onset of the recession, only 19 states met the recommended funding level, which is one year of reserves equal to the highest amount of unemployment insurance paid out during prior recessions.
Financing experts suggest that states build up their jobless benefit coffers during strong economic times so that they can draw from them during downturns…